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Viewing Blog: wordswimmer, Most Recent at Top
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Bruce Black searches for words and stories on Florida's west coast, only a few miles from the Gulf of Mexico.** A writer, editor of children's books, and writing instructor, his stories for children have appeared in Cricket and Cobblestone magazines.** You can contact him at wordswimmer@hotmail.com.
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1. Coming to Terms With Yourself

When Harper Lee was asked what advice she’d give a young writer, she wrote: “Well, the first advice I would give is this: hope for the best and expect nothing. Then you won’t be disappointed.” And she went on to say: “You must come to terms with yourself about writing. You must not write “for” something, you must not write with definite hopes of reward. People who write for reward by way of

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2. Diving into each moment

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3. Stuck in the Muck

It happens when you least expect it. You take a turn down a road that looks promising and before you realize what’s happening the tires sink into the muck and you can’t back out. Or you are swimming in clear water and the next thing you know there are weeds tangled around your arms and legs and you are sinking into the mud. Your brain is stuck, your pen is frozen. Words have vanished;

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4. The Path to the Sea

Here is the path that we’ll take to the sea. It’s the beginning of our journey. We don’t know where the path will lead us. (We have no maps, no clues.) All we can do is walk toward the clouds ahead and hope we’ll find the sea. The clouds offer a glimmer of hope, a way to go. And we head toward them  It’s a hunch, an intuitive feeling. And we follow that feeling

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5. Are You A Writer?

Can you accept imperfection? Can you accept that you'll need to revise again and again (and still again), that the word you're looking for may not appear until the twentieth or thirtieth draft?  Can you accept that one day your writing will flow like wine and the next day the well may run dry and all you can do is sit at your desk and stare for hours at an empty screen? Can you accept that

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6. My Writing Process Blog Tour

One of my favorite writers and illustrators, Michelle Edwards, was kind enough to invite me to join the My Writing Process Blog Tour. Michelle has written and illustrated numerous books for children, including the National Jewish Book Award winner, Chicken Man. If you enjoy knitting, you might like to pick up her book on knitting for adults, A Knitter's Home Companion, an illustrated collection

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7. The Path

When we pick up our pen to write, we step onto a path. It’s not a clearly marked path. If we look for it stretching out ahead of us, we won’t see it. No flags mark its direction.  No paving stones or shells indicate where we need to step or warn us when we may veer off the path. For some of us it’s a path that we follow for a week or month, for others a semester or a year.

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8. Learning to Accept Criticism

Learning to accept criticism is a part of our job as writers—perhaps one of the hardest parts of the job—but few of us are comfortable hearing criticism of our work and often misinterpret it. Rather than accepting as a gift the heartfelt comments of a reader who may point out serious or not-so-serious problems in a narrative, we often bristle and choose to dismiss the comments as irrelevant

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9. Writing Works (For Me) Like This

I’ll feel the pull of a current, and I’ll wait for the current to get stronger. If I pursue the pull of the current before it’s strong enough, I won’t be able to ride the wave of the story because it doesn’t yet have enough force or momentum to carry me. So, I wait and mull and think, letting the wave, the idea, build and gain strength. When I can no longer resist its pull, I let the

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10. Trusting Instinct

Over the past few weeks, as I approach the end of a work-in-progress, I find myself spending a good deal of time revising and thinking about the final chapters. These chapters have changed dramatically since I started out. Indeed, the entire book has changed. It has deepened. It has become more of a story. I’m sure the manuscript will need another pass or two, maybe more, before I feel

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11. The True Source of Dreams

Lately, I’ve noticed how some writers are getting more and more discouraged because they aren’t able to place their manuscripts with their long-time publishers or agents. After many years of writing and publishing, they are becoming pessimistic about the future of their work. Editors don’t respond to their submissions, agents no longer call or else tell them that their work isn't current,

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12. Cracking Open Your Words

When we revise our work, it is often difficult to see past the polished prose that we’ve spent so much time burnishing to a high gloss. And that’s the problem. Words that are too polished can provide the illusion of completion while hiding the flaws of a story beneath the glimmer and shine of the polish. When you revise your work, you have to look differently at your words. You have

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13. Gazing Inward

“In the depths of winter I finally learned that there was within me an invincible summer.”   -Albert Camus  “To write is to turn this inward gaze into words, to study the world into which that person passes when he retires into himself, and to do so with patience, obstinacy, and joy.” – Orhan Pamuk  So often if we want to write stories, we are told to look and listen for them as if they are “

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14. Hard Thinking

It’s one of those days when I spend more time thinking about what I’m writing than actually writing. I think about how I want to proceed, and where I think the story is going, and where the story is actually going. These days devoted to thinking are becoming almost as important as the days that I spend writing. One of my teachers, Norma Fox Mazer, once told me that the hardest part

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15. Tracing Letters in the Dust

It’s hard enough to write across national boundaries and cultures, to get inside the customs, traditions, and values of another people, and it might be even harder to write across the boundary of gender, a woman writing from a man’s perspective, say, or a man writing from a young girl’s point of view. Yet with a seemingly effortless grace and authority, Trent Reedy does both in his novel, Words

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16. What’s Luck Got To Do With It?

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that our successes, as well as our failures, are attributable to luck. If we finish a story, or find an agent, or publish a book, we often say it’s because of luck, or the stars are aligned, or someone above is offering a helping hand. It’s the same if we make a mistake, or can’t sell our work, or our book fails to gain readers—we say it’s

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17. See You Later, Alligator

There are days when writing feels like tiptoeing past alligators lying in wait, eyes aglow, watching as I struggle to keep my balance on the slippery stones leading across the swamp. No matter when I start writing, the alligators are always there waiting for me to fall. They are my fears, anxieties, and doubts waiting to ambush me. The moment I set foot in the water, the alligators are

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18. Beacons of Light - 2013

At this time of year, as winter deepens and darkness spreads its seeds of doubt, I am heartened by the Beacons of Light--Sarah Lamstein, Dianne Ochiltree, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, and Pat McDermott--who illuminated the writing process for wordswimmers over this past year. Thanks to their generosity and insights into their work, I've come to better understand how my own writing process works

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19. What it takes to write

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20. My friend, Chuck

Last weekend I went to visit my friend, Chuck, a writer of books for adults and children, whose nonfiction stories have appeared in Cricket magazine and elsewhere. We began meeting every month or so after I moved to Florida a decade ago. Both of us attended the same graduate writing program in Vermont and had met while sharing the dorm floor that had been reserved for the men in the program

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21. Picking Up Where I Left Off

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22. Noticing Where You Are

The way I’m revising my work-in-progress is different than in the past. I’m content now to stay in one place in the story for as long as I need to stay there. I won’t allow myself to move ahead until I feel that I’ve finished a section—a sentence, a scene, a page, a chapter—and only then will I let myself take another step into the story. In the past I couldn’t wait to reach the end

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23. A Writer’s Self-Worth

 Every writer reaches a point in the writing process when he hits a wall, swims into a net, gets snagged by a shoal, and is unable to swim past it. Whether it’s loss of confidence in one’s writing, fatigue from spending too much time with words, hand cramps from carpal tunnel, emotional resistance to investigating one’s imagination, physical discomfort from sitting too long, or eye strain

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24. Procrastination and Perspective

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25. A Snail’s Pace

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